The 15-Minute Neighborhood Analysis

Holland’s 2017 Comprehensive Plan states:1 Walkability_Map_Composite Opens in new window

Holland is home to a number of distinct neighborhoods, each with their own unique character. Holland citizens value their neighborhoods and the social connections within them. Over the course of the past two decades, the City has developed neighborhood-specific plans that address distinct neighborhood issues. Planning efforts for Holland’s neighborhoods strive to provide and preserve unique, vibrant, walkable, and active places that enhance the quality of life for City residents. (p. 28)

Moreover, two of the principal goals included in the Comprehensive Plan state the following: 

The City of Holland’s neighborhoods will be aesthetically pleasing, tree-lined, walkable, and mixed-use with recognizable development patterns. (p. 89)

The City of Holland will foster a safe and healthy community for all residents. (p. 158)

The 15-Minute Neighborhood Analysis is a tool that helps the community understand a large part of what it means to be a livable, walkable, sustainable, connected, and healthy city. The tool helps to identify areas suitable for attention and improvement, and by doing so helps the City move forward in the direction of achieving this established vision and associated goals.

Below is a map demonstrating the current state of Holland’s walkability based on the layering of multiple scoring criteria. Overall walkability depends on multiple factors, each related to two key characteristics: the presence of destinations – places that meet certain commercial, educational, recreational or transportation criteria, and accessibility – the ability of people to conveniently get to such destinations. The map overlays scores derived from eight different criteria, namely: 

  1. proximity to full-service grocery stores,
  2. proximity to convenience stores and drug stores or pharmacies,
  3. the presence and clustering of businesses and related entities that people are likely to visit with regular frequency, such as coffee shops, restaurants, gyms, daycare centers, bookstores, the library, post office, etc.,
  4. the presence of sidewalks and walking trails,
  5. proximity to parks or green space,
  6. the presence of schools and related institutions,
  7. the presence of intersections that provide safe crossing opportunities, and
  8. the presence of public transit access points (transit stops). 

The map below represents the overlay of each of those eight criteria into a composite score. The deeper green shows those areas of the City that provide the most walkable access to the above-listed destinations, and red represent those areas with the least walkable access. Separate maps were created demonstrating the individualized scoring for each of the eight inputs. These can be found below in the section labeled “Individual Maps.”

1 Walkability_Map_Composite

A 15-minute neighborhood is a community where residents can walk short distances from home to destinations that meet their daily needs. These walkable communities are comprised of two important characteristics: 

  • Destinations – a walkable community needs places to walk to. Destinations may include places that meet commercial, educational, recreational, or transportation needs.
  • Accessibility – the community needs to be able to conveniently get to those destinations.

Fifteen minutes represents how much time it takes a typical pedestrian to comfortably walk about ½ to ¾ of a mile, a reasonable distance to obtain goods or services that meet daily needs. Although the primary reference is to walkability, the same principles of creating, sustaining, and enhancing places where people have convenient access applies to people using wheelchairs and other mobility aids. Similarly, in most cases, a more walkable neighborhood is likely to be a more bikeable neighborhood.

In addition to having good destinations and good access, 15-minute neighborhoods require a third component, namely people.  Walkable places have a population base of residents and employees who use the amenities and take advantage of the area’s walkability. This reciprocal relationship can be seen in Holland’s mixed use commercial neighborhoods that are highly walkable and have a population base that supports the destinations.

** The 15-Minute Neighborhood model adapted here and much of the text above is credited to staff of the City of Kirkland, Washington. Used with permission.